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How to Pick the Right Nursing Degree Program near Alexander City Alabama

Alexander City Alabama nurse with physician and patientChoosing the right nursing school near Alexander City AL may seem like a difficult project, especially if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and assess the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many future students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Selecting the least costly school or the one that is closest to your home is probably not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are several key additional factors to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review what the job of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, together with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Alexander City Alabama RN talking to a nursing home patient

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, including Alexander City AL hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Keeping health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees

There is more than one degree option available to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Alexander City AL area.

  • Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later attain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might desire to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
  • Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is usually a two year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

After a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing change from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alabama board of nursing for any state requirements.

LPN and LVN Programs

Alexander City Alabama LPN holding door for man using crutchesThere are generally two academic accreditations offered that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be concluded in the shortest time frame, usually about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma course. The next alternative is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and typically require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, aside from supplying a higher credential and more extensive training, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. No matter the type of credential you seek, it needs to be Alabama approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the course of study effectively prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

CNA Training

Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA instruction can be received at Alexander City AL area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the instruction can take anywhere from 1 to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to have at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction directed and each state has its own requirements. So it's necessary to make certain that the course you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but also those for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the training is state approved. Along with the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be additional prerequisites as well.

Online Nursing Schools

Alexander City Alabama RN assisting surgeon with operationAttending nursing programs online is growing into a more in demand way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend school for many Alexander City AL students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs

Now that you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Alexander City AL or online, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alabama and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we already pointed out, the site of the school and the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two points that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the field.

  • Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping verify that you get a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Alexander City AL for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alabama or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Also, check with the Alabama school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Alexander City AL healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments are of the schools as well.
  • Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN schools you are looking at what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Alexander City AL healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students attain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Find out if the schools have associations with Alexander City AL hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.

Find Out More About Alexander City Nursing Training Programs

Choose the Best Alexander City Nursing Degree Program

Picking the right registered nursing degree program is potentially the most critical step to launching a new career in the health care field. There are numerous factors that you need to consider when deciding on a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have stressed in this article, it is critical that you choose an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Alexander City AL.



 

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